? for CO Clubs, etc. - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 02-05-2008   #1
 
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? for CO Clubs, etc.

Hi all,
We've been having a bit of a discussion on the Utah White water club page about membership. The issue is keeping enrolement costs down while still offering ACA coverage(of our liabilitys) and covering club/trip costs. Do y'all have any Ideas that work and are worth taking on. Membership is way down and it is mostly due to cost versus worth. Any ideas would be helpful, and thanks in advance.

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Old 02-06-2008   #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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I can't help you with costs, but I might have an idea for keeping/adding members. We have a company in Panama, Boquete Outdoor Adventures, that specializes in custom trips. We have set scheduled whitewater trips in the fall, but most of our trips are custom.

We are very interested in marketing directly to boating clubs. For us, a boating club trip would be great marketing. We can give you a very good price for a custom trip from a boating club, especially if it is for our max of 8 folks. This is especially true for a trip in June, July and August.

Since it would be a custom trip, we could do anything from beginner to class V. We could also split the group (4 beginners, 4 class III for example).

If you make it open only to club members, then maybe that would help the value of being a member.

If you want, email me and we can talk about pricing and other ideas.

Sincerely,

John Miller
[email protected]
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Old 02-06-2008   #3
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The Ranch, Colorado
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Way to suck up to the almighty dollar, Panama Jack. I'm sure that's a very helpful response. I'm sure everyone has a few thousand dollars to shell out for air fare and the week in Panama. Pardon me while I roll my eyes at a completely inadequately veiled attempt at advertising. Ya just made me sick a little. I'll live.

Back to the subject at hand:
If the membership drop is resultant from a cost-to-value deficiency, then you have to work on the value side. You can't do much, if anything, about the cost of ACA coverage. In the club I know, ACA dues and pool session cost are the overwhelming majority of our overhead (easily over 75 percent).

So here are some questions I have for you to get the dialogue going.

You say in your post that you need dues to cover ACA liability. I'm assuming you mean insurance. Is that correct?

Second, you say:
Quote:
covering club/trip costs
That leads me to wonder what club and trip costs your talking about.
And how much do those costs contribute to your dues charge? That COULD be a problem.

Getting back to my original point:
If the value people get for their cost is unsatisfactory, then work on the value side. Poll your club and find out what they feel they should get for the dues they pay.

It's kind of an interesting thing, kayaking clubs. I go back and forth with the two clubs in Colorado, PPWC and CWWA.

It seems to me that in the long-run, kayakers only NEED a club to open the door to the sport. Someone to help them learn to roll and get them to the rivers, and also people to network with and with whom to start moving out on their own to paddle. It seems to me that after a certain point, you know where to find people to paddle with and you don't need a club for much at that point. People that stay in clubs after they've developed a network of friends to paddle with will do so out of loyalty to the club/sport, or because their friends are staying in it.

There are a couple of reasons why I remain in my club beyond the above, though, and that's the fact that my primary club (PPWC) takes a really active roll in watching what's going on with water rights in Colorado and particularly with the Arkansas Headwaters River Association (AHRA). A couple of things going on with our club have made us strategically important to water use of the Arkansas, and I stay committed to my club to help support that.

That aspect of club "value" started because of a couple very dedicated paddlers making it their business to follow the news and committees and so forth. That leadership proved beneficial to us beyond just folks paddling together.

I don't know about your club, but one aspect of value is determined by whether your club can make an impact on the community in which paddlers have to compete to keep their water rights. Maybe that doesn't apply as much for Utah as Colorado (but I doubt it, and you guys probably paddle here, too). Community outreach can inspire a club to stay organized, and can inspire people to give their money to be a part of the "lobby".

Get back to the thread and let us know what your actual obstacles are, and get with your membership and discuss the meaning of "value" to them.
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Old 02-06-2008   #4
 
Denver, Colorado
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Good post Helio!

John that was kind of a shameless plug,but in your defense I would say that I don't think most people realize how awesome your area is,definitely deserves equal consideration to Ecuador and Costa Rica,this coming from a guy who is trying to promote Guatemala and Belize.
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Old 02-06-2008   #5
 
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Salt Lake City, Utah
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Ah...Shameless indeed. So in the cost veresus worth category we have a winner!!! Increase the cost!

Back to it. Helio, My motivation is simple. As to your point, I am not actualy a member of the club. A while back my crew hooked up and we started boating together alot. The Utah club, albeit well intentioned, does not boat as much(more pool than river), and the number of people that wind up boating any given river(ie my trips) has exceeded acceptable levels. I am trying to relight the fire in the local club to limit the "crew" I seem to be inheriting by default. Something needs to happen in our scene. The Utah ww club has the draw, but no longer seems to hold members like it used to.

As far as the ACA, my understanding is that dues at 45 dollars a pop go 30 dollars towards ACA and 15 dollars to cover pool rental, campgrounds, etc.

As far as local "value" is concerned, the club contributes event proceeds to the Snake river fund, AW, and sponsors river cleanups etc.

Part of the problem, I am sure, is that the donational wants of the older crew and donational wants of the new crew do not line up so well(story as old as time).

I am mostly looking for input as to how to get the ball rolling again. I wind up mother ducking(which I don't mind ocasioanly) more than i care for.
Thanks,
Craig
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Old 02-06-2008   #6
 
Golden, Colorado
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Ahh! So you're trying to figure out how to not be stuck being the only mother duck and on a more or less perminant basis.

Here's my 2 cents on the subject

I've both attended and worked at the Colorado School of Mines for ~8 years now and thats allowed me to observe how their kayak club seems to sustain itself. Granted the academic environment is a bit different from what you deal with in a club that is not affiliated with a school and is open to all. But I think some of the principles are the same.

Since it's a college, you have this continuous 4 year turnover cycle where seniors graduate and freshmen come in. The formula that the club seems to have that seems to generally work is this:

We recruit really big as soon as new students start, and get as many members as we can, even though we're pulling in a bunch of newbies. Of the newbies, ~50% will join but only show up a few times or not at all because they decide they're just not into it. The ones you net you really try to teach, get them out on trips, and kind of prod them along a bit. Get as many of them as you can to at least the point where they're comfortable in class III. The idea is to get them good enough so that they are eventually able to teach and lead trips for the next class that comes in under them. We have been lucky in that we've often been able pull in some advanced boaters as well that kind add some inspiration. This seems to make "club" trips more managable, as usually you have an advanced boater or two in the lead, as well as a few intermediates that at least won't be swimming and may assist in leading or carnage recovery.

The philosophy is to sort of run on a cycle where for the first 2 years, incoming members end up taking some value out of the club by just learning, and the goal is to get them to sort of "repay" it the next couple of years by leading trips, participating as club officers and continuing the tradition. Building friendships in process is also important because that definately helps retain the members that have progressed out of the newbie stage. Also offering some diversity of activities seems to help. For instance we typically offer some sort of spring break trip away as either a multiday or road trip, an intercollegiate slalom/rodeo competition in the spring, random fall and spring weekend trips, as well as weekly pool sessions that end with an attendent trip to bar afterwards.

But still, a lot of it relies on recruiting big because out of every 5-10 members you initially recruit, only 1 one of them is likely to hang out for the long haul. If you have a slacker year on recuitment, the it hurts you 3-4 years down the line because you don't have anyone to pass the torch to.

Its definately not easy, as our past club presidents can probably testify to. And this might be harder to achieve in a non-academic setting, since you don't have that college bond going on. But still I think the trick is prod your newbies along so that at least some of them get to be halfway decent, and get them to teach next generation. If you have people stagnating in their skill level at class II, that's no good because they won't ever be confident enough to lead or teach others. After you get this kind of thing going, that's what will allow the "mother hens" to back off a bit and let the next generation step up.
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Old 02-07-2008   #7
 
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For those who were offended by my reply about doing trips in Panama, I apologize. I did not try to hide that it was marketing. We are a small company that cannot afford major advertising, so we try to make connections where we can.

I honestly thought that boating clubs would see a benefit to this. We try to offer very affordable trips. My thinking was that I could offer discounts to clubs. That seems beneficial to both parties.

Again, I certainly wasn't trying to be underhanded. If club membership is falling, then it seems that people are seeing less of reason to be a part of the club. If the club has more to offer, then the club grows.

If you think I commited a terrible infraction of the blog, please feel free to email directly and give me feedback.

John Miller
boqueteoutdooradventures.com
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Old 02-07-2008   #8
 
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Salt Lake City, Utah
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No one offended here by your add. Found you throwing it out there a bit humorus quite frankly.
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Old 02-07-2008   #9
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What Ben Petri is describing is basically what works in PPWC (from my POV, some may see it other ways).

But one thing Ben is leaving out is the people in the club who manage the cycles. That requires leadership.

I'm still in the grey a bit where your relationship is with the club. You're not even a member, yet you're basically the trip planner? You basically lead the beginner/advanced beginner trips?

If that club has a leadership vacuum, I'm not sure there's much that can be done about it until such time as someone feels compelled to enrich the club. And you can't do it alone.

As for too many ducks and too much carnage and safety levels of veterans to newbs, gh can probably tell you some first-hand experiences. Hell, in PPWC, we now call such incidents as "gh events". There's some humor to that, but we realize the safety implications.

gh and I both use a policy of "If you don't get my direct approval to come along on the trip, don't show up last minute." That's how we ended up with some problems. That, and planning trips for beginners right when the meltoff hit. Oops.

As for your dues of $45, that's what we pay in PPWC. And as with the Utah club, the bulk of that covers pool purchase and ACA insurance. So you're spot on there, I think. Or "they" are, seeing as how you're not a member.

Right now, it sounds like a crisis in leadership.
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Old 02-07-2008   #10
 
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Helio,
So my relationship. The Ut scene is quite intimate. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find someone in this state who I haven't boated with. That being said, I am good freinds and comunicate frequently with the new Pres. Ultimately i am trying to lend a hand from outside of the ring, and hunting for Ideas.
What seems to be happening is the club teaches them a few basics and then they go out foraging for people to boat with. My little trips are fairly well known, and as you mentioned above, there are plenty of people that just show up.

I am mostly just looking for Beta as to what works
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